Lima, Peru- Peru’s oldest and most read newspaper El Comercio ran an editorial arguing that the refusal by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru to obey the Vatican amounts to an act of theft against the Church.
“The underlying issue is whether the Church has the right it claims to have: that of ownership of the university,” El Comercio said. “Instead of talking about this, university representatives instead are arguing about how the Church might exercise that right.”
The Feb. 26 editorial focused on the ongoing debate surrounding the Vatican’s demand that the university bring its statues in line with the Church’s norms governing Catholic universities.
The university has until April 8 to comply with the Vatican directives, which are drawn from the Apostolic Exhortation Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Many have noted that the school uses a number of ecclesiastical goods that belong to the Archdiocese of Lima and that the land on which it sits was donated by patron Jose de la Riva Aguero – who specified in his will that it would always be used for Catholic education.
The school refusing to reform to Vatican directives could mean the goods revert back to the Archdiocese of Lima, some have suggested.
El Comercio said that the facts supporting the Church in this situation “are strong” and that the university was established with the understanding that it would be governed “with absolute respect for the norms of the Holy See, to which it is accountable.”
“The argument regarding the autonomy given by law to universities is a flimsy response” on the part of school officials, the paper said. “Autonomy is a guarantee against the State, not against the owner.”
For school officials “to speak about the university’s ‘plurality and democratic values’ is a distraction and implies a willingness to engage in theft in order to have a diverse university,” El Comercio said.
“If we are in a constitutional State, the rights of everyone should be determined according to the law and not according to how the rest of us feel about whether the holder of a specific right makes use of it,” the editorial stated.
The paper said university officials are giving a terrible example to students “by manipulating the issue and making it seem that stealing from someone is okay” as long as it is for seemingly altruistic reasons.